We started off yesterday’s blog in great form, firing in 9/1 winner Does He Know and very nearly followed with a 10/1 scorer too – here’s to more of the same!
Another seven races are scheduled for day 2 of the Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham and it’s been terrific to see action back at the home of jumps racing, with the feature handicap chase looking like throwing up some real value for us in particular.
2.05 (Conditions Hurdle – Class 2) – BOTOX HAS
We begin with a four-year-olds-only race, one in which the smallish field has led to the jolly looking very short in the betting.
The horse in question, Allmankind, is of course solid enough for the Skelton operation and while his third in the Triumph Hurdle round here at the Festival naturally reads well, it also truly shows us what his ability is.
He can improve still, but in the shape of Botox Has there is one horse in this line-up who perhaps has even more progression in him.
Gary Moore’s charge likes this track having won here, but his key piece of form is from last winter when he was actually second to Allmankind in the Triumph Hurdle Trial.
He didn’t take much of a beating that day, has a 4lb weight turnaround now and looks very good value to turn the table for a yard that wouldn’t come here were he not capable of beating his old rival. Nordano is next on the list.
2.40 (Novices’ Chase – Class 2) – NOT THAT FUISSE
The one for money here has been Pileon, and while he comes from a powerful yard in the shape of Philip Hobbs’ he just doesn’t have the form in our book to justify favouritism.
Challenging him at the top of the market has been Southfield Stone who looks a little more solid, but again under-priced and so a chance has to be taken on one we know has ability and is race fit and that is Dan Skelton’s Not That Fuisse.
The seven-year-old, just six runs into his chasing career and capable of plenty more yet, reached a new level when winning at Perth last time but that was merely a pipe-opener. He has run second around here to Al Dancer in the past and can make his price look a little silly.
The only other horse in the line-up, Coole Cody, is no mug either so consider that in what will be a difficult placepot market.
3.15 (Handicap Hurdle – Pertemps Hurdle Series Qualifier – Class 2) – NEVILLE’S CROSS
Other than the feature, this could be considered the most competitive race of the day with 18 going to post for the three-mile hurdling cavalry charge.
Naturally there are plenty in contention, though market leaders Honest Vic and I’d Better Go Now seem overestimated a little to us.
With the most solid profile and representing just about fair odds is Tom Lacey’s hat-trick seeker Neville’s Cross and he is given the vote. Robbie Power takes the ride and that is a big positive, with the five-year-old match-fit improver likely to love conditions round here.
Philip Hobbs runs Flinck in this and too has a very strong place chance, while Champagne Court of Jeremy Scott’s yard is very definitely too big in the market overnight at around 14/1 and must be taken seriously too.
3.50 (Handicap Chase – Class 2) – WEST APPROACH
Even in this strangest of times there is a decent pot on offer here for the 3m1f main event, with £30,000 on offer to the winner.
That pot could be going the way of the Colin Tizzard yard we reckon, with their ten-year-old West Approach having plenty in his favour here upon looking carefully at his profile.
He was second in this race last year and has gone on to run very well around the track on other occasions. He is now 7lbs higher in the handicap than he was twelve months ago, but he has been even higher in the weights and we think the improvement he has shown since being runner-up to The Conditional outweighs that 7lbs.
The likely favourite is the hard to assess Manofthemountain who has been winning easily at a lower level, while Sensulano should also be given more than just a glance.
Established horses such as Cogry and Frodon are in the mix here, but they simply don’t look well handicapped now or at least not for their respective seasonal debut’s anyway and are overlooked this time.
4.25 (Novices’ Hurdle – Class 2) – MINELLA ENCORE
While of the four with the biggest chance the selection has a couple of years on his rivals, he remains capable of improvement under the tutelage of Dr Richard Newland and so at small stakes the money goes the way of Minella Encore.
Overnight favourite Streets Of Doyen is next on the list while the Macon Lugnatic also gets a shout.
5.00 (Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase – Class 3) – JEN’S BOY
This is a wide-open event for amateur jockeys, so once more we would not recommend going in too heavily at all.
It’s hard to accurately judge given all the race conditions what we believe each horse can achieve versus their handicap mark at this stage of the season, so the smart play is to stick with likely market leader Jen’s Boy who is ridden by the best available jockey in this scenario, Sam Waley-Cohen.
5.35 (Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race – Class 2) – I AM MAXIMUS
We close with a bumper and it goes without saying that if there is a big gamble on any of these 15 prospects we’d have to sit up and take notice, but at the overnight stage we reckon it might pay at decent odds to side with debutant I Am Maximus.
The combo of Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville is a very strong one and the vibes are good about this son of Derby winner Authorized, so a chance can be taken for small money.